By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
When Chronicle Sport sent him a message at 8am, Anthony Nakamba did not respond and it was the same almost an hour later prompting us to call him directly.
After a few rings without the call being answered, we were about to hang up in disappointment when the former Hwange goalkeeper answered.
When told that we sent him a message an hour earlier, he apologised profusely.
“I am sorry about that, I was dead asleep, having slept just a few hours ago because of celebrations. I am still on cloud nine and so happy for my son,” said Anthony, who was celebrating Aston Villa’s dramatic last day of the season survival following their one-all draw with West Ham at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Anthony’s son, Marvellous is in the Aston Villa books and was an 82nd minute substitute with the two teams tied 0-0 before an 84th minute goal by skipper Jack Grealish seemed to have all but cemented their stay with the big boys in the top tier league.
However, the lead was short-lived, as West Ham levelled matters moments later through a deflected goal by Andriy Yarmolenko, resulting in a nervy finale for the visitors.
After the referee blew the full time whistle, Marvellous and his teammates were still unsure of their fate and joined together in a team huddle on the pitch, as they awaited results elsewhere.
They, however, soon celebrated joyously, as news filtered through that their point enough to keep them in the Premier League after Watford lost to Arsenal.
“The atmosphere in the house was tense one could touch it. It was even more emotional when once in a while the cameras would switch to the players on the substitutes’ bench, who included my son. I could only imagine what was going through his mind. At least we were better off because we were also aware of other results elsewhere that had a bearing on Aston Villa’s fate.
“We, however, were not happy with the Bournemouth and Everton scoreline because it meant a goal by West Ham would have seen Villa relegated if they didn’t level matters,” said Anthony.
Bournemouth stunned Everton 3-1 and would have survived had Aston Villa lost to West Ham.
“After the final whistle, we knew it was done and everyone was over the moon. We waited for Marve to call because we knew he was also eager to talk to us just like we were. After a while, he called. He was just delirious, he spoke to everyone before me and him engaged in a very long father to son talk,” said Anthony.
Asked if at any given time he ever thought his son will be playing in the championship next season, Anthony confessed that following four back-to-back defeats just before matches were put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, he had those fears.
“I must confess that at one time those thoughts were with us, even when I spoke to my son, I could sense a feeling of dejection, which told me that perhaps he too was having those fears, but what struck me was that he assured me that they will fight like lions to stay up.
“A ray of hope started coming to me with that draw against Everton and they beat Arsenal I knew that Aston Villa will not be relegated, but eish, I am so happy man. I know every other Zimbabwean out there is happy too,” said Anthony.
Defensive midfielder Marvellous had 33 appearances for Aston Villa and made 65 tackles.
He became an Aston Villa player on August 1, 2019, joining from Belgian side Club Brugge. The Chronicle